The world's fourth-largest hotel group kept its outlook for a rise of up to 19 percent in its core operating profit this year as it posted a 2.7 percent increase in third-quarter sales, in line with forecasts. The French company, which owns 4,200 hotels worldwide, said higher occupancy rates and a gradual recovery in average room rates should lift full-year 2011 earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to between 510 million and 530 million euros, up from 446 million in 2010. Chief Financial Officer Sophie Stabile told a conference call that bookings were on a "positive" trend, showing no signs of slowing down at least through year-end. Get the full story at Reuters